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A village in the Catskill Mountains Frontispiece 

Facing page 

"A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be 
considered a tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van 
Winkle was thrice blessed " 10 

" Here they used to sit in the shade through a long lazy 
summer's day, talking listlessly over village gossip 
or telling endless sleepy stories about nothing " . . 21 

" On nearer approach he was still more surprised at the 

singularity of the stranger's appearance" 32 

"... Though these folks were evidently amusing them- 
selves, yet they maintained the gravest faces, the 
most mysterious silence" 38 

" On waking he found himself on the green knoll whence 

he had first seen the old man of the glen " 44 

" It was with some difficulty that he found his way to 
his own house, which he approached with silent awe, 
expecting every moment to hear the shrill voice 
of Dame Van Winkle " 54 

"... And preferred making friends among the rising 

generation, with whom he grew into great favor " . . 76 

Rip Van Winkle 




[The following tale was found among the papers 
of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker, an old gentleman 
of New York, who was very curious in the Dutch 
history of the province and the manners of the 
descendants from its primitive settlers. His his- 
torical researches, however, did not lie so much 
among books as among men; for the former are 


lamentably scanty on his favorite topics, whereas 
he found the old burghers, and still more their wives, 
rich in that legendary lore so invaluable to true 
history. Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a 
genuine Dutch family, snugly shut up in its low- 
roofed farmhouse under a spreading sycamore, he 
looked upon it as a little clasped volume of black- 
letter, and studied it with the zeal of a book-worm. 
The result of all these researches was a history of 
the province during the reign of the Dutch governors, 
which he published some years since. There have 


been various opinions as to the literary character of 
his work, and, to tell the truth, it is not a whit better 
than it should be. Its chief merit is its scrupulous 
accuracy, which indeed was a little questioned on its 
first appearance, but has since been completely es- 
tablished; and it is now admitted into all historical 
collections as a book of unquestionable authority. 

The old gentleman died shortly after the publica- 
tion of his work, and now that he is dead and gone, it 
cannot do much harm to his memory to say that his 
time might have been much better employed in 


weightier labors. He, however, was apt to ride his 
hobby his own way; and though it did now and then 
kick up the dust a little in the eyes of his neighbors, 
and grieve the spirit of some friends for whom he felt 
the truest deference and affection; yet his errors 
and follies are remembered "more in sorrow than in 
anger," and it begins to be suspected that he never 
intended to injure or offend. But, however his 
memory may be appreciated by critics, it is still 
held dear by many folk whose good opinion is well 
worth having; particularly by certain biscuit-bakers, 
who have gone so far as to imprint his likeness on 
their new-year cakes, and have thus given him a 
chance for immortality almost equal to the being 
stamped on a Waterloo medal or a Queen Anne's 


By Woden, God of Saxons, 

From whence comes Wensday, that is Wodensday, 

Truth is a thing that ever I will keep 

Unto thylke day in which I creep into 

My sepulchre. 


WHOEVER has made a voyage up the 
Hudson must remember the Kaatskill 
Mountains. They are a dismembered 
branch of the great Appalachian family, 
and are seen away to the west of the river, 
swelling up to a noble height and lording 


it over the surrounding country. Every 
change of season, every change of weather, 
indeed, every hour of the day, produces 
some change in the magical hues and 
shapes of these mountains, and they are 
regarded by all the good wives, far and 
near, as perfect barometers. When the 
weather is fair and settled, they are clothed 
in blue and purple, and print their bold 
outlines on the clear evening sky; but 
sometimes, when the rest of the landscape 
is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray 
vapors about their summits, which in the 
last rays of the setting sun will glow and 
light up like a crown of glory. 


At the foot of these fairy mountains the 
voyager may have descried the light smoke 
curling up from a village, whose shingle 
roofs gleam among the trees just where the 
blue tints of the upland melt away into the 
fresh green of the nearer landscape. It is 
a little village of great antiquity, having 
been founded by some of the Dutch col- 
onists in the early times of the province, 
just about the beginning of the govern- 
ment of the good Peter Stuyvesant (may 
he rest in peace!), and there were some of 
the houses of the original settlers standing 
within a few years, built of small yellow 
bricks brought from Holland, having lat- 


ticed windows and gable fronts surmounted 
with weathercocks. 

In that same village, and in one of these 
very houses (which, to tell the precise 
truth, was sadly time-worn and weather- 
beaten), there lived many years since, while 
the country was yet a province of Great 
Britain, a simple good-natured fellow of 
the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a 
descendant of the Van Winkles who fig- 


ured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of 
Peter Stuyvesant and accompanied him to 
the siege of Fort Christina. He inherited, 
however, but little of the martial character 
of his ancestors. I have observed that he 
was a simple good-natured man; he was, 
moreover, a kind neighbor and an obedient 
henpecked husband. Indeed, to the latter 
circumstance might be owing that meek- 
ness of spirit which gained him such uni- 
versal popularity; for those men are most 
apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad 
who are under the discipline of shrews at 


home. Their tempers, doubtless, are ren- 
dered pliant and malleable in the fiery fur- 
nace of domestic tribulation, and a curtain 
lecture is worth all the sermons in the 
world for teaching the virtues of patience 
and long-suffering. A termagant wife may 
therefore, in some respects, be considered a 
tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Win- 
kle was thrice blessed. 

Certain it is that he was a great favorite 
among all the good wives of the village, 
who, as usual with the amiable sex, took 
his part in all family squabbles, and never 
failed, whenever they talked those matters 

' D ME K 

U A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a 
tolerable blessing; and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed.' 1 


over in their evening gossipings, to lay all 
the blame on Dame Van Winkle. The 
children of the village, too, would shout 
with joy whenever he approached. He 
assisted at their sports, made their play- 
things, taught them to fly kites and shoot 
marbles, and told them long stories of 
ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever 
he went dodging about the village he was 
surrounded by a troop of them, hanging 
on his skirts, clambering on his back, and 
playing a thousand tricks on him with im- 
punity; and not a dog would bark at him 
throughout the neighborhood. 


The great error in Rip's composition 
was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of 
profitable labor. It could not be from the 
want of assiduity or perseverance; for he 
would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long 
and heavy as a Tartar's lance, and fish 
all day without a murmur, even though 
he should not be encouraged by a single 
nibble. He would carry a fowling-piece 


on his shoulder for hours together, trudg- 
ing through woods and swamps and up 
hill and down dale, to shoot a few squirrels 
or wild pigeons. He would never refuse 
to assist a neighbor even in the roughest 
toil, and was a foremost man at all coun- 
try frolics for husking Indian corn or build- 
ing stone fences; the women of the vil- 
lage, too, used to employ him to run their 


errands, and to do such little odd jobs as 
their less obliging husbands would not do 
for them. In a word, Rip was ready to 
attend to anybody's business but his own; 
but as to doing family duty and keeping 
his farm in order, he found it impossible. 

In fact, he declared it was of no use to 
work on his farm; it was the most pesti- 
lent little piece of ground in the whole 
country; everything about it went wrong, 
and would go wrong in spite of him. His 
fences were continually falling to pieces; 
his cow would either go astray or get 
among the cabbages; weeds were sure to 


grow quicker in his fields than anywhere 
else; the rain always made a point of set- 
ting in just as he had some out-door work 
to do; so that, though his patrimonial es- 
tate had dwindled away under his man- 
agement, acre by acre, until there was 
little more left than a mere patch of Indian 
corn and potatoes, yet it was the worst- 
conditioned farm in the neighborhood. 

His children, too, were as ragged and 
wild as if they belonged to nobody. His 
son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own 
likeness, promised to inherit the habits 
with the old clothes of his father. He was 


generally seen trooping like a colt at his 
mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his 
father's cast-off galligaskins, which he had 
much ado to hold up with one hand, as a 
fine lady does her train in bad weather. 

Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of 
those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled 
dispositions, who take the world easy, eat 


white bread or brown, whichever can be 
got with least thought or trouble, and 
would rather starve on a penny than work 
for a pound. If left to himself, he would 
have whistled life away in perfect con- 
tentment; but his wife kept continually 
dinning in his ears about his idleness, his 
carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing 
on his family. Morning, noon, and night 
her tongue was incessantly going, and 
everything he said or did was sure to pro- 
duce a torrent of household eloquence. 
Rip had but one way of replying to all lec- 
tures of the kind, and that, by frequent 


use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged 
his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his 
eyes, but said nothing. This, however, 
always provoked a fresh volley from his 
wife; so that he was fain to draw off his 
forces and take to the outside of the house 
-the only side which, in truth, belongs to 
a henpecked husband. 

Rip's sole domestic adherent was his 
dog Wolf, who was as much henpecked 
as his master; for Dame Van Winkle re- 
garded them as companions in idleness, 
and even looked upon Wolf with an evil 
eye, as the cause of his master's going so 


often astray. True it is, in all points of 
spirit befitting an honorable dog he was 
as courageous an animal as ever scoured 
the woods; but what courage can with- 
stand the ever-during and all-besetting ter- 
rors of a woman's tongue? The moment 
Wolf entered the house his crest fell, his 


tail drooped to the ground or curled be- 
tween his legs, he sneaked about with a 
gallows air, casting many a sidelong glance 
at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least 
flourish of a broomstick or ladle he would 
fly to the door with yelping precipitation. 

Times grew worse and worse with Rip 
Van Winkle as years of matrimony rolled 
on; a tart temper never mellows with age, 
and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool 
that grows keener with constant use. For 
a long while he used to console himself, 
when driven from home, by frequenting 
a kind of perpetual club of the sages, phil- 

D M c - K 

Here they used to sit in the shade through a long lazy summer's day, 
talking listlessly over village gossip or telling endless 
sleepy stories about nothing. ' 


osophers, and other idle personages of the 
village which held its sessions on a bench 
before a small inn, designated by a rubi- 
cund portrait of His Majesty George the 
Third. Here they used to sit in the shade 
through a long lazy summer's day, talk- 
ing listlessly over village gossip or telling 
endless sleepy stories about nothing. But 
it would have been worth any statesman's 
money to have heard the profound dis- 
cussions that sometimes took place when 
by chance an old newspaper fell into their 
hands from some passing traveler. How 
solemnly they would listen to the contents, 


as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel, 
the schoolmaster, a dapper learned little 
man, who was not to be daunted by the 
most gigantic word in the dictionary, and 
how sagely they would deliberate upon 
public events some months after they had 
taken place! 

The opinions of this junto were com- 
pletely controlled by Nicholas Vedder, a 
patriarch of the village and landlord of the 
inn, at the door of which he took his seat 
from morning till night, just moving suf- 
ficiently to avoid the sun and keep in the 
shade of a large tree; so that the neighbors 


could tell the hour by his movements as 
accurately as by a sun-dial. It is true he 
was rarely heard to speak, but smoked his 
pipe incessantly. His adherents, however 
(for every great man has his adherents), 
perfectly understood him, and knew how 



to gather his opinions. When anything 
that was read or related displeased him, he 
was observed to smoke his pipe vehe- 
mently, and to send forth short, frequent, 
and angry puffs; but when pleased, he 
would inhale the smoke slowly and tran- 
quilly, and emit it in light and placid 
clouds ; and sometimes, taking the pipe 
from his mouth and letting the fragrant 
vapor curl about his nose, would gravely 
nod his head in token of perfect appro- 

From even this stronghold the unlucky 
Rip was at length routed by his termagant 


wife, who would suddenly break in upon 
the tranquillity of the assemblage and call 
the members all to naught; nor was that 
august personage, Nicholas Vedder him- 
self, sacred from the daring tongue of this 
terrible virago, who charged him outright 
with encouraging her husband in habits 
of idleness. 

Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to 
despair, and his only alternative, to escape 
from the labor of the farm and clamor of 
his wife, was to take gun in hand and 
stroll away into the woods. Here he would 
sometimes seat himself at the foot of a 


tree, and share the contents of his wallet 
with Wolf, with whom he sympathized as 
a fellow- sufferer in persecution. "Poor 
Wolf!" he would say, "thy mistress leads 
thee a dog's life of it; but never mind, my 


lad whilst I live thou shalt never want a 
friend to stand by thee!" Wolf would wag 
his tail, look wistfully in his master's face, 
and, if dogs can feel pity, I verily believe 
he reciprocated the sentiment with all his 


In a long ramble of the kind on a 
fine autumnal day Rip had unconsciously 
scrambled to one of the highest parts of 
the Kaatskill Mountains. He was after 
his favorite sport of squirrel-shooting, and 
the still solitudes had echoed and re-echoed 
with the reports of his gun. Panting and 
fatigued, he threw himself, late in the 
afternoon, on a green knoll, covered with 
mountain-herbage, that crowned the brow 
of a precipice. From an opening between 
the trees he could overlook all the lower 
country for many a mile of rich woodland. 
He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson, 


far, far below him, moving on its silent 
but majestic course, with the reflection of 
a purple cloud or the sail of a lagging 
bark here and there sleeping on its glassy 
bosom, and at last losing itself in the blue 

On the other side he looked down into 
a deep mountain-glen, wild, lonely, and 
shagged, the bottom filled with fragments 
from the impending cliffs, and scarcely 
lighted by the reflected rays of the setting 
sun. For some time Rip lay musing on 
this scene; evening was gradually advanc- 
ing; the mountains began to throw their 


long blue shadows over the valleys ; he 
saw that it would be dark long before he 
could reach the village, and he heaved a 
heavy sigh when he thought of encounter- 
ing the terrors of Dame Van Winkle. 

As he was about to descend he heard a 
voice from a distance hallooing, "Rip Van 
Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!" He looked 
round, but could see nothing but a crow 
winging its solitary flight across the moun- 
tain. He thought his fancy must have de- 
ceived him, and turned again to descend, 
when he heard the same cry ring through 
the still evening air: "Rip Van Winkle! 


Rip Van Winkle!" --at the same time 
Wolf bristled up his back, and giving a 
low growl, skulked to his master's side, 
looking fearfully down into the glen. Rip 
now felt a vague apprehension stealing 
over him; he looked anxiously in the same 

direction, and perceived a strange figure 
slowly toiling up the rocks and bending 
under the weight of something he carried 
on his back. He was surprised to see 
any human being in this lonely and unfre- 
quented place, but supposing it to be some 
one of the neighborhood in need of his as- 
sistance, he hastened down to yield it. 


On nearer approach he was still more 
surprised at the singularity of the stranger's 
appearance. He was a short, square-built 
old fellow, with thick bushy hair and a griz- 
zled beard. His dress was of the antique 
Dutch fashion a cloth jerkin strapped 
round the waist several pairs of breeches, 
the outer one of ample volume, decorated 
with rows of buttons down the sides, and 
bunches at the knees. He bore on his 
shoulder a stout keg that seemed full of 
liquor, and made signs for Rip to approach 
and assist him with the load. Though 
rather shy and distrustful of this new ac- 

i D M? K 

On nearer approach he was still more surprised at the singularity 

the stranger's appearance. ' 


quaintance, Rip complied with his usual 
alacrity; and, mutually relieving each other, 
they clambered up a narrow gully, appa- 
rently the dry bed of a mountain-torrent. 
As they ascended, Rip every now and then 
heard long rolling peals, like distant thun- 
der, that seemed to issue out of a deep 
ravine, or rather cleft, between lofty rocks, 
toward which their rugged path conducted. 
He paused for an instant, but supposing 
it to be the muttering of one of those tran- 
sient thunder-showers which often take 
place in mountain-heights, he proceeded. 
Passing through the ravine, they came to 


a hollow, like a small amphitheatre, sur- 
rounded by perpendicular precipices, over 
the brinks of which impending trees shot 
their branches, so that you only caught 
glimpses of the azure sky and the bright 


evening cloud. During the whole time 
Rip and his companion had labored on in 
silence; for though the former marvelled 
greatly what could be the object of carry- 
ing a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, 
yet there was something strange and in- 
comprehensible about the unknown that 
inspired awe and checked familiarity. 


On entering the amphitheatre, new ob- 
jects of wonder presented themselves. On 
a level spot in the centre was a company 
of odd-looking personages playing at nine- 
pins. They were dressed in a quaint out- 
landish fashion : some wore short doublets, 
others jerkins, with long knives in their 
belts, and most of them had enormous 
breeches, of similar style with that of the 
guide's. Their visages, too, were peculiar: 
one had a large head, broad face, and small 
piggish eyes: the face of another seemed 
to consist entirely of nose, and was sur- 
mounted by a white sugar-loaf hat, set off 


with a little red cock's tail. They all had 
beards, of various shapes and colors. There 
'was one who seemed to be the commander. 
He was a stout old gentleman, with a 
weatherbeaten countenance; he wore a 
laced doublet, broad belt and hanger, high- 
crowned hat and feather, red stockings, 
and high-heeled shoes with roses in them. 
The whole group reminded Rip of the fig- 
ures in an old Flemish painting in the 
parlor of Dominie Van Shaick, the village 
parson, and which had been brought over 
from Holland at the time of the settlement. 
What seemed particularly odd to Rip 


was, that though these folks were evi- 
dently amusing themselves, yet they main- 
tained the gravest faces, the most mys- 
terious silence, and were, withal, the most 
melancholy party of pleasure he had ever 
witnessed. Nothing interrupted the still- 
ness of the scene but the noise of the balls, 
which, whenever they were rolled, echoed 
along the mountains like rumbling peals 
of thunder. 

As Rip and his companion approached 
them they suddenly desisted from their 
play, and stared at him with such fixed 
statue-like gaze, and such strange, un- 



, . though these folks were evidently amusing themselves, yet 
they maintained the gravest faces, the most mysterious 



couth, lack-lustre countenances, that his 
heart turned within him and his knees 
smote together. His companion now emp- 
tied the contents of the keg into large flag- 
ons, and made signs to him to wait upon 
the company. He obeyed with fear and 
trembling ; they quaffed the liquor in pro- 
found silence, and then returned to their 

By degrees Rip's awe and apprehension 
subsided. He even ventured, when no eye 
was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage, 
which he found had much of the flavor of 
excellent Hollands. He was naturally a 


thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to re- 
peat the draught. One taste provoked an- 
other, and he reiterated his visits to the 
flagon so often that at length his senses 


were overpowered, his eyes swam in his 
head, his head gradually declined, and he 
fell into a deep sleep. 


On waking he found himself on the 
green knoll whence he had first seen the 
old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes- 
it was a bright sunny morning. The birds 
were hopping and twittering among the 
bushes, and the eagle was wheeling aloft 
and breasting the pure mountain-breeze. 


"Surely," thought Rip, "I have not slept 
here all night." He recalled the occur- 
rences before he fell asleep. The strange 


man with a keg of liquor the mountain- 
ravine the wild retreat among the rocks- 
the woebegone party at nine-pins - - the 
flagon. "Oh, that flagon! that wicked 
flagon!" thought Rip- "what excuse shall 
I make to Dame Van Winkle!" 

He looked round for his gun, but in 
place of the clean, well-oiled fowling-piece, 
he found an old firelock lying by him, the 
barrel encrusted with rust, the lock falling 
off, and the stock worm-eaten. He now 
suspected that the grave roysterers of the 
mountain had put a trick upon him, and, 
having dosed him with liquor, had robbed 

"On waking he found himself on the green knoll whence he had first 

seen the old man of the glen. ' 


him of his gun. Wolf, too, had disap- 
peared, but he might have strayed away 
after a squirrel or partridge. He whistled 
after him and shouted his name, but all in 
vain; the echoes repeated his whistle and 
shout, but no dog was to be seen. 

He determined to revisit the scene of the 
last evening's gambol, and if he met with 
any of the party to demand his dog and 
gun. As he rose to walk, he found him- 
self stiff in the joints and wanting in his 
usual activity. "These mountain-beds do 
not agree with me," thought Rip, "and if 
this frolic should lay me up with a fit of 


the rheumatism, I shall have a blessed 
time with Dame Van Winkle." With 
some difficulty he got down into the glen : 
he found the gully up which he and his 
companion had ascended the preceding 
evening ; but to his astonishment a moun- 
tain-stream was now foaming down it, 
leaping from rock to rock and filling the 
glen with babbling murmurs. He, how- 
ever, made shift to scramble up its sides, 
working his toilsome way through thick- 
ets of birch, sassafras, and witch-hazel, 
and sometimes tripped up or entangled 
by the wild grape-vines that twisted their 


coils or tendrils from tree to tree and 
spread a kind of network in his path. 

At length he reached to where the 
ravine had opened through the cliffs to 
the amphitheatre ; but no traces of such 
opening remained. The rocks presented 
a high impenetrable wall, over which the 
torrent came tumbling in a sheet of 
feathery foam, and fell into a broad, deep 
basin, black from the shadows of the sur- 
rounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was 
brought to a stand. He again called and 
whistled after his dog; he was only an- 


swered by the cawing of a flock of idle 
crows sporting high in air about a dry tree 
that overhung a sunny precipice, and who, 
secure in their elevation, seemed to look 
down and scoff at the poor man's perplex- 


ities. What was to be done? The morn- 
ing was passing away, and Rip felt fam- 
ished for want of his breakfast. He grieved 
to give up his dog and gun ; he dreaded to 
meet his wife ; but it would not do to starve 
among the mountains. He shook his head, 
shouldered the rusty firelock, and with a 
heart full of trouble and anxiety turned his 
steps homeward. 

As he approached the village he met 
a number of people, but none whom he 
knew, which somewhat surprised him, for 
he had thought himself acquainted with 
every one in the country round. Their 


dress, too, was of a different fashion from 
that to which he was accustomed. They 
all stared at him with equal marks of sur- 
prise, and whenever they cast their eyes 
upon him, invariably stroked their chins. 
The constant recurrence of this gesture 
induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, 


when, to his astonishment, he found his 
beard had grown a foot long! 

He had now entered the skirts of the 
village. A troop of strange children ran 
at his heels, hooting after him and point- 
ing at his gray beard. The dogs, too, not 
one of which he recognized for an old ac- 


quaintance, barked at him as he passed. 
The very village was altered ; it was larger 
and more populous. There were rows of 
houses which he had never seen before, 
and those which had been his familiar 
haunts had disappeared. Strange names 
were over the doors strange faces at the 
windows everything was strange. His 


mind now misgave him ; he began to doubt 
whether both he and the world around 
him were not bewitched. Surely this was 
his native village, which he had left but 
the day before. There stood the Kaatskill 

Mountains there ran the silver Hudson 


at a distance there was every hill and 
dale precisely as it had always been. Rip 
was sorely perplexed. 'That flagon last 
night," thought he, "has addled my poor 
head sadly." 

It was with some difficulty that he found 
the way to his own house, which he ap- 
proached with silent awe, expecting every 


moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame 
Van Winkle. He found the house gone 
to decay the roof fallen in, the windows 
shattered, and the doors off the hinges. A 
half-starved dog that looked like Wolf 
was skulking about it. Rip called him 
by name, but the cur snarled, showed his 
teeth, and passed on. This was an unkind 
cut indeed. "My very dog," sighed poor 
Rip, "has forgotten me!" 

He entered the house, which, to tell the 
truth, Dame Van Winkle had always 
kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, 
and apparently abandoned. This desolate- 

" It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house, 

which he approached with silent awe, expecting every moment 

to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. " 


ness overcame all his connubial fears he 
called loudly for his wife and children the 
lonely chambers rang for a moment with 
his voice, and then all again was silence. 

He now hurried forth, and hastened to 
his old resort, the village inn, but it too 
was gone. A large rickety wooden build- 
ing stood in its place, with great gaping 
windows, some of them broken and mended 
with old hats and petticoats, and over the 
door was painted, "The Union Hotel, by 
Jonathan Doolittle." Instead of the great 
tree that used to shelter the quiet little 


Dutch inn of yore, there now was reared 
a tall, naked pole, with something on the 
top that looked like a red night-cap, and 
from it was fluttering a flag, on which was 
a singular assemblage of stars and stripes. 


All this was strange and incomprehensible. 
He recognized on the sign, however, the 
ruby face of King George, under which he 
had smoked so many a peaceful pipe ; but 
even this was singularly metamorphosed. 
The red coat was changed for one of blue 
and buff, a sword was held in the hand 
instead of a sceptre, the head was decora- 
ted with a cocked hat, and underneath 
was painted in large characters, GENERAL 

There was, as usual, a crowd of folk 
about the door, but none that Rip recol- 
lected. The very character of the people 


seemed changed. There was a busy, bust- 
ling, disputatious tone about it, instead of 
the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tran- 
quillity. He looked in vain for the sage 
Nicholas Vedder, with his broad face, double 
chin, and fair long pipe, uttering clouds of 
tobacco-smoke instead of idle speeches ; or 
Van Bummel, the schoolmaster, doling 
forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. 
In place of these, a lean, bilious-looking 
fellow, with his pockets full of handbills, 
was haranguing vehemently about rights 
of citizens elections members of Con- 
gress liberty Bunker's Hill heroes of 


Seventy-six and other words, which were 
a perfect Babylonish jargon to the bewil- 
dered Van Winkle. 



The appearance of Rip, with his long, 
grizzled beard, his rusty fowling-piece, his 
uncouth dress, and an army of women and 
children at his heels, soon attracted the 
attention of the tavern politicians. They 
crowded round him, eyeing him from head 
to foot with great curiosity. The orator 
bustled up to him, and, drawing him part- 
ly aside, inquired "on which side he voted." 
Rip stared in vacant stupidity. Another 
short but busy little fellow pulled him by 
the arm, and, rising on tiptoe, inquired in 
his ear, "Whether he was Federal or Dem- 
ocrat." Rip was equally at a loss to com- 


prehend the question ; when a knowing, 
self-important old gentleman, in a sharp 
cocked hat, made his way through the 
crowd, putting them to the right and left 
with his elbows as he passed, and, planting 
himself before Van Winkle, with one arm 
akimbo, the other resting on his cane, his 
keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating, as it 
were, into his very soul, demanded in an 
austere tone, 'What brought him to the 
election with a gun on his shoulder and a 
mob at his heels, and whether he meant to 
breed a riot in the village?" "Alas! gentle- 
men," cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, "I 


am a poor, quiet man, a native of the 
place, and a loyal subject of the king, God 
bless him!" 

Here a general shout burst from the by- 
standers- "A Tory! a Tory! a spy! a refu- 
gee! hustle him! away with him!" It was 
with great difficulty that the self-important 
man in the cocked hat restored order ; and, 
having assumed a tenfold austerity of brow, 
demanded again of the unknown culprit 
what he came there for, and whom he 
was seeking. The poor man humbly as- 
sured him that he meant no harm, but 
merely came there in search of some of his 


neighbors, who used to keep about the 

'Well who are they? name them." 

Rip bethought himself a moment, and 
inquired, 'Where's Nicholas Vedder?" 

There was a silence for a little while, 
when an old man replied in a thin piping 
voice, "Nicholas Vedder! why, he is dead 
and gone these eighteen years! There was 


a wooden tombstone in the churchyard 
that used to tell all about him, but that's 
rotten and gone too." 

"Where's Brom Butcher?" 

"Oh, he went off to the army in the be- 
ginning of the war ; some say he was killed 
at the storming of Stony Point others say 
he was drowned in a squall at the foot of 
Antony's Nose. I don't know he never 
came back again." 

'Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmas- 

"He went off to the wars too, was a great 
militia general, and is now in Congress." 


Rip's heart died away at hearing of these 
sad changes in his home and friends and 
finding himself thus alone in the world. 
Every answer puzzled him, too, by treating 
of such enormous lapses of time, and of 
matters which he could not understand: 
war Congress Stony Point. He had no 
courage to ask after any more friends, but 
cried out in despair, "Does nobody here 
know Rip Van Winkle?" 

"Oh, Rip Van Winkle!" exclaimed two 
or three. "Oh, to be sure! that's Rip 
Van Winkle yonder, leaning against the 


Rip looked and beheld a precise counter- 
part of himself as he went up the mountain, 
apparantly as lazy, and certainly as ragged. 
The poor fellow was now completely con- 
founded. He doubted his own identity, and 
whether he was himself or another man. 
In the midst of his bewilderment the man 
in the cocked hat demanded who he was, 
and what was his name. 

"God knows," exclaimed he, at his wit's 
end ; "I'm not myself I'm somebody else- 
that's me yonder no that's somebody else 
got into my shoes. I was myself last night, 
but I fell asleep on the mountain, and 


they've changed my gun, and everything's 
changed, and I'm changed, and I can't tell 
what's my name, or who I am!" 

The bystanders began now to look at 
each other, nod, wink significantly, and 
tap their fingers against their foreheads. 
There was a whisper, also, about securing 
the gun and keeping the old fellow from 
doing mischief, at the very suggestion 
of which the self-important man in the 
cocked hat retired with some precipita- 
tion. At this critical moment a fresh 
comely woman passed through the throng 
to get a peep at the gray-bearded man. 


She had a chubby child in her arms, 
which, frightened at his looks, began to 
cry. "Hush, Rip," cried she, "hush, you 
little fool! the old man won't hurt you." 
The name of the child, the air of the mother, 
the tone of her voice, all awakened a train 
of recollections in his mind. 'What is 
your name, my good woman?" asked he. 

"Judith Gardenier." 

"And your father's name?" 

"Ah, poor man! Rip Van Winkle was 
his name, but it's twenty years since he 
went away from home with his gun, and 
never has been heard of since his dog 


came home without him ; but whether he 
shot himself, or was carried away by the 
Indians, nobody can tell. I was then but 
a little girl." 


Rip had but one question more to ask, 
but he put it with a faltering voice : 
'Where's your mother?" 

"Oh, she, too, had died but a short time 
since; she broke a blood-vessel in a fit of 
passion at a New England peddler." 


There was a drop of comfort, at least, in 
this intelligence. This honest man could 
contain himself no longer. He caught his 
daughter and her child in his arms. "I 
am your father!" cried he- "young Rip 
Van Winkle once old Rip Van Winkle 
now! Does nobody know poor Rip Van 

All stood amazed, until an old woman, 
tottering out from among the crowd, put 
her hand to her brow, and peering under 
it in his face for a moment, exclaimed, 
"Sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle it is 
himself! Welcome home again, old neigh- 


bor! "Why, where have you been these 
twenty long years?" 

Rip's story was soon told, for the whole 
twenty years had been to him but as one 
night. The neighbors stared when they 
heard it ; some were seen to wink at each 
other, and put their tongues in their cheeks : 
and the self-important man in the cocked 
hat, who, when the alarm was over, had 
returned to the field, screwed down the 
corners of his mouth and shook his head- 
upon which there was a general shaking 
of the head throughout the assemblage. 

It was determined, however, to take the 


opinion of old Peter Vanderdonk, who was 
seen slowly advancing up the road. He 
was a descendant of the historian of that 
name, who wrote one of the earliest ac- 
counts of the province. Peter was the 
most ancient inhabitant of the village, and 
well versed in all the wonderful events and 
traditions of the neighborhood. He recol- 
lected Rip at once, and corroborated his 
story in the most satisfactory manner. He 
assured the company that it was a fact, 
handed down from his ancestor the his- 
torian, that the Kaatskill Mountains had 
always been haunted by strange beings. 


That it was affirmed that the great Hen- 
drick Hudson, the first discoverer of the 
river and country, kept a kind of vigil there 
every twenty years, with his crew of the 
Half-moon, being permitted in this way to 
revisit the scenes of his enterprise and keep 
a guardian eye upon the river and the great 
city called by his name. That his father 
had once seen them in their old Dutch 
dresses playing at nine-pins in a hollow of 
the mountain ; and that he himself had 
heard, one summer afternoon, the sound of 
their balls, like distant peals of thunder. 
To make a long story short, the company 


broke up, and returned to the more impor- 
tant concerns of the election. Rip's daugh- 
ter took him home to live with her ; she had 
a snug, well-furnished house, and a stout 
cheery farmer for a husband, whom Rip 
recollected for one of the urchins that used 
to climb upon his back. As to Rip's son 
and heir, who was the ditto of himself, 
seen leaning against the tree, he was em- 
ployed to work on the farm, but evinced an 
hereditary disposition to attend to anything 
else but his business. 

Rip now resumed his old walks and 
habits ; he soon found many of his former 


cronies, though all rather the worse for the 
wear and tear of time ; and preferred mak- 
ing friends among the rising generation, 
with whom he soon grew into great favor. 
Having nothing to do at home, and being 
arrived at that happy age when a man can 
be idle with impunity, he took his place 
once more on the bench at the inn-door, 
and was reverenced as one of the patri- 
archs of the village and a chronicle of the 
old times "before the war." It was some 
time before he could get into the regular 
track of gossip, or could be made to com- 
prehend the strange events that had taken 

. . . and preferred making friends among the rising generation, 
with whom he grew into great favor. " 


place during his torpor. How that there 
had been a Revolutionary War that the 
country had thrown off the yoke of old 
England and that, instead of being a sub- 
ject of his Majesty George the Third, he 
was now a free citizen of the United States. 
Rip, in fact, was no politician ; the changes 
of states and empires made but little im- 
pression on him ; but there was one species 
of despotism under which he had long 
groaned, and that was petticoat govern- 
ment. Happily, that was at an end; he 
had got his neck out of the yoke of matri- 
mony, and could go in and out whenever 


he pleased, without dreading the tyranny 
of Dame Van Winkle. Whenever her 
name was mentioned, however, he shook 
his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast 
up his eyes ; which might pass either for 
an expression of resignation to his fate or 
joy at his deliverance. 

He used to tell his story to every stran- 
ger that arrived at Mr. Doolittle's hotel. 
He was observed, at first, to vary on some 
points every time he told it, which was, 
doubtless, owing to his having so recently 
awaked. It at last settled down precisely 
to the tale I have related, and not a man, 


woman, or child in the neighborhood but 
knew it by heart. Some always pretended 
to doubt the reality of it, and insisted that 
Rip had been out of his head, and that 
this was one point on which he always re- 
mained flighty. The old Dutch inhabit- 
ants, however, almost universally gave it 
full credit. Even to this day they never 
hear a thunder-storm of a summer after- 
noon about the Kaatskill but they say 
Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their 
game of nine-pins; and it is a common 
wish of all henpecked husbands in the 
neighborhood, when life hangs heavy on 


their hands, that they might have a quiet- 
ing draught out of Rip Van Winkle's 



The foregoing tale, one would suspect, had been 
suggested to Mr. Knickerbocker by a little German 
superstition about the Emperor Frederick der Roth- 
bart and the Kypphauser Mountain: the subjoined 
note, however, which he had appended to the tale, 
shows that it is an absolute fact, narrated with his 
usual fidelity: 

"The story of Rip Van Winkle may seem incredible 
to many, but nevertheless I give it my full belief, for 
I know the vicinity of our old Dutch settlements to 
have been very subject to marvellous events and 
appearances. Indeed, I have heard many stranger 
stories than this in the villages along the Hudson, 
all of which were too well authenticated to admit of a 


doubt. I have even talked with Rip Van Winkle 
myself, who, when last I saw him, was a very vener- 
able old man, and so perfectly rational and consistent 
on every other point that I think no conscientious 
person could refuse to take this into the bargain; 
nay, I have seen a certificate on this subject taken 
before a country justice, and signed with a cross, in 
the justice's own handwriting. The story, therefore, 
is beyond the possibility of doubt. 

"D. K." 



The following are travelling notes from a memoran- 
dum-book of Mr. Knickerbocker: 

The Kaatsberg, or Catskill Mountains, have al- 
ways been a region full of fable. The Indians 
considered them the abode of spirits, who influenced 
the weather, spreading sunshine or clouds over the 
landscape and sending good or bad hunting seasons. 
They were ruled by an old squaw spirit, said to be 
their mother. She dwelt on the highest peak of the 
Catskills, and had charge of the doors of day and 
night to open and shut them at the proper hour. She 
hung up the new moons in the skies, and cut up the 
old ones into stars. In times of drought, if properly 
propitiated, she would spin light summer clouds out 
of cobwebs and morning dew, and send them off from 


the crest of the mountain, flake after flake, like flakes 
of carded cotton, to float in the air; until, dissolved 
by the heat of the sun, they would fall in gentle 
showers, causing the grass to spring, the fruits to 
ripen, and the corn to grow an inch an hour. If 
displeased, however, she would brew up clouds black 
as ink, sitting in the midst of them like a bottle- 
bellied spider in the midst of its web ; and when these 
clouds broke, woe betide the valleys! 

In old times, say the Indian traditions, there was a 
kind of Manitou or spirit, who kept about the wildest 
recesses of the Catskill Mountains, and took a mis- 
chievious pleasure in wreaking all kinds of evils and 
vexations upon the red men. Sometimes he would 
assume the form of a bear, a panther, or a deer, lead 
the bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangled 
forests and among ragged rocks, and then spring off 



with a loud ho! ho! leaving him aghast on the brink 
of a beetling precipice or raging torrent. 

The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. 
It is a great rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the 
mountains, and, from the flowering vines which 
clamber about it and the wild flowers which abound 
in its neighborhood, is known by the name of the 
Garden Rock. Near the foot of it is a small lake, 
the haunt of the solitary bittern, with water-snakes 
basking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies, 
which lie on the surface. This place was held in 
great awe by the Indians, insomuch that the boldest 
hunter would not pursue his game within its precints. 
Once upon a time, however, a hunter who had lost 
his way penetrated to the Garden Rock, where 
he beheld a number of gourds placed in the crotches 
of trees. One of these he seized and made off with 
it, but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among 


the rocks, when a great stream gushed forth, which 
washed him away and swept him down precipices, 
where he was dashed to pieces, and the stream made 
its way to the Hudson, and continues to flow to the 
present day, being the identical stream known by 
the name of the Kaaterskill.